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Where have my ‘aha’ moments gone?
Just read my social media posts this morning.
More inspirational quotes, more advice on how to make my life more productive, more stuff about how I must, right now, transform my thinking if I am to be a success.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of this. My problem is that all this stuff has reached saturation point, and when that happens there’s a formula for producing these sorts of posts. They are all the same now, they are almost universally superficial, there’s little unique, little really, really new— that generates that aha moment.
These past few weeks, I’ve been exposed to some really amazing thinking, some Third Horizon thinking. Some thinking that starts from the future not today. And I had an ‘aha’ moment.
It’s not that there’s anything terribly wrong with the formula posts but I’ve outgrown them and that’s why my frustration has surfaced. It’s a signal to look somewhere else to keep learning and growing.
I realised that if I am to help other people think about the future in new ways, I need to be in that space first and help people move to that space in their contexts. These past years I’ve been focused on my business, in working our why I was doing what I was doing, and who I wanted to work with, to collaborate with to help them design futures they wanted, rather than end up as a bit player in someone else’s future. That had to be done, or my business would fail. Oh, and I wrote a book :) But it took me out of ‘being’ in the future space.
At some stage in those years, I realised I had set up structures to interact with people online but I wasn’t interacting — really not clever. I have everything in place but I wasn’t getting in there, collaborating, sharing and learning from others. That’s a way to spend time in the future space, and it’s a way to put into practice what I now realise I’ve been preparing to do these past few years.
So my reflections, my lessons from all this pondering?
One is that we should trust our instincts when we hear them, feel them tell us something just isn’t right with my information sources, with what I’m doing and how I do it. Stay open to what’s going on around you and at some stage, something will click, and you will realise what that thing with no name is that been gnawing at you.
Two is that without connections, collaborations and some crazy thinkers in your life, it’s really easy to get stuck in the status quo, accepting what comes your way as the best input into your thinking and your practice. The sort of information I described above is often helpful for today, but does it challenge your thinking, your assumptions, does it make you frustrated in ways you can’t quite explain? Looking for the new today is hard work, but it’s worth taking the time to look.
Three, I’ve realised I want to get my PhD done as quickly as I can. My topic is Contested Ideas of the University: Enabling or Constraining Possible University Futures? This research is about moving our thinking about the future university out of the status quo, beyond the paradigm that makes us think there will always be a university when there’s no guarantee.
It’s about doing what we do today as best we can while making sure we know that today isn’t the main game.
It’s how we manage today, teach today, research today and lead today that will create the future university. If we don’t start making decisions from ahead of today, from the space where the myriad of possible university futures will emerge, we will believe that taking today into the future is all there is. And that would be a sad future indeed.
Finally, the next time you hear the voice of your brain inside your head telling you that something you are looking at is just a bit weird, just a bit too left field that makes you think “oh no, I can’t do that”, STOP. Go there, immerse yourself into the left field. If you start to disagree with that voice — which is just an unchallenged cognitive bias working — and experiment a bit, you will start to move your thinking beyond the brick wall that is the status quo, beyond the inspirational quotes, beyond the tips about being productive. You will be finding a future space to inform your thinking, your actions today, and you will feel and see the difference.
I’m off to sort out my future space now :) Hope I see you there at some stage.
Exported from Medium on June 9, 2022.